MIAMI — Hassan Whiteside was dominant, and so were the Heat.
Miami (21-30) cruised to a 125-102 victory over Philadelphia (18-32) on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena to extend its winning streak to 10 games.
It marks the Heat’s longest winning streak since they went on another 10-game streak during the 2013-14 season. It also marks the ninth time in franchise history that a winning streak has reached double digits.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside had a historic night, finishing with 30 points and 20 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Whiteside is just the second-ever NBA player to record at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in 27 minutes or fewer in the regular season since the 1983-84 season. The 27-year-old joined Bill Laimbeer, who accomplished the feat in 21 minutes on Jan. 2, 1985.
It’s Whiteside’s first career game with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds, and the ninth time a Heat player has a finished with such a stat line — including the playoffs — in franchise history.
Along with Whiteside’s dominant performance, the Heat also had Dion Waiters’ efficient performance. Waiters finished with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Miami controlled the game from the start, leading by as much as 34 points. Rodney McGruder exited the contest at halftime due to an illness and did not return.
Ersan Ilyasova led the 76ers with a team-high 21 points.
Here are our five takeaways from the game …
1. Streaking: The Heat’s winning streak continues. With Saturday’s win, Miami has now won 10 straight. The Heat’s last loss came on Jan. 13 when they were one of the NBA’s worst teams at 11-30. Since then, Miami has won its way back into the playoff race as it entered the night just three games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Heat’s 10-game winning streak is the longest in NBA history by a team at least 19 games below .500 when it started. Miami will now look to continue its winning ways on the road with a four-game trip beginning Monday in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.
2. An engaged Hassan is a great Hassan: It had been a while since the Heat’s $98 million center dominated a game. Whiteside entered Saturday’s game averaging a modest (for his standards) 12.4 points and 11.6 rebounds over the first nine games of the Heat’s winning streak. But Whiteside controlled the game from the tip against the 76ers. The 7-footer took advantage of Philadelphia’s depleted frontline, as Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor missed the game due to injury. Whiteside was a force from the start, finishing the first quarter with 17 points and 11 rebounds. It took him just 9 minutes and 40 seconds to record his 31st double-double of the season.
3. Tyler Johnson is back: After missing five games with a strained left shoulder, Johnson has been working his way back into rhythm. The Heat’s sixth man didn’t look like his usual self in his first two games back from the injury, scoring 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting. But Johnson was sharp in his third game back from the shoulder injury, finishing with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists on Saturday. Johnson said his conditioning was his biggest hurdle after returning to the court, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore. He logged 34 minutes of playing time against the 76ers.
4. Hot shooting continues: The Heat entered Saturday’s game shooting an NBA-best 41.7 percent from 3-point range over the first nine games of their winning streak. Yes, even better than the Warriors, which rank second at 40.9 percent over that stretch. And the Heat’s hot shooting continued, as they made 12-of-22 shots from long range against the 76ers. Miami’s starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Waiters combined to make 7-of-8 of their 3-point shots. The Heat are now shooting 42.8 from three over their 10-game streak. The fact that Miami has been able to sustain this type of shooting over the past two-plus weeks is pretty remarkable, considering the Heat ranked 27th in the NBA with a 33.8 shooting percentage from long distance over the first 41 games — before the winning streak.
5. Where will Okaro go from here?: Since 24-year-old forward Okaro White signed his first 10-day contract with the Heat on Jan. 17, Miami hasn’t lost. In fact, the Heat are 10-0 since bringing up White from their D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. But Miami now has a decision to make, as White’s second 10-day contract expires Sunday. With teams limited to two 10-day contracts per player, the Heat will have to decide whether to sign White for the remainder of the season or release him when the current deal expires. If the Heat decide to release White, they run the risk of another NBA team signing him away just like Golden State did with Briante Weber. But in order to sign White for the remainder of the season, the Heat will have to open a roster spot by trading or releasing a player.